Outed Liskula Cohen Blogger Sues Google

Remember when Liskula Cohen forced Google to reveal an anonymous blogger who was using their domain to call her a “skank” and suggest she performed lewd sex acts? Naturally, now that she has been outed — as Rosemary Port, a Fashion Institute of Technology student — is suing Google for violating her privacy.

“This has become a public spectacle and a circus that is not my doing,” said Port, whose “Skanks in NYC” site branded the 37-year-old Cohen an “old hag.” “By going to the press, she defamed herself,” Port said. “Before her suit, there were probably two hits on my Web site: One from me looking at it, and one from her looking at it,” Port said. “That was before it became a spectacle. I feel my right to privacy has been violated.”

That’s probably about right. I’d never heard of Liskula Cohen before the news of this suit went public. Then again, Cohen’s site was likely a first page result on Google when people searched for “Liskula Cohen.”

The pretty 29-year-old Fashion Institute of Technology student added that she’s furious at Google for revealing her identity, so much so that she plans to file a $15 million federal lawsuit against the Web giant.

“When I was being defended by attorneys for Google, I thought my right to privacy was being protected,” Port said. “But that right fell through the cracks. Without any warning, I was put on a silver platter for the press to attack me. I would think that a multi-billion dollar conglomerate would protect the rights of all its users.”

In her suit, she’ll charge Google “breached its fiduciary duty to protect her expectation of anonymity,” said her high-powered attorney Salvatore Strazzullo.

“I’m ready to take this all the way to the Supreme Court,” Strazzullo said. “Our Founding Fathers wrote ‘The Federalist Papers’ under pseudonyms. Inherent in the First Amendment is the right to speak anonymously. Shouldn’t that right extend to the new public square of the Internet?”

While people have the right to try to keep their anonymity secret when writing, it’s not a positive right.
And, to the extent Google had a duty to protect Port’s identity, the certainly fulfilled it by defending it in court up to the point where a judge ordered them to reveal that information to Cohen.

It would cripple our civil law system if citizens or corporations could be sued for complying with court orders! Indeed, I’m not sure how to stop that merry-go-round.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Alex Knapp says:

    Prediction: the suit will not be filed. She’s just settlement baiting. Even if one is filed, it will be dismissed faster than you can say “Skanks in NYC”.

  2. Janis Gore says:

    Good Lord. If there were ever a call for a good mud wrestling match between New York fashionistas, now is the time.

  3. Furhead says:

    It would cripple our civil law system if citizens or corporations could be sued for complying with court orders!

    This was basically my first impression of this development.

    And thank you Janis for morning pick-me-up!

  4. Gustopher says:

    I’m pretty sure that Rosemary Port is a skank. Also, Liskula Cohen… skank.

    But, there is one interesting part of this — while Google did comply with a court order and was right to do so, did Ms. Port have an opportunity to contest the decision to lose her anonymity without losing that anonymity in the process?

    On the surface, referring to a semi-public figure as a skank or ho or an old hag is not slanderous, and the court order should never have been granted.

  5. Brian Knapp says:

    Ha! Janis, I second. The winner can keep the ticket sales and call the matter settled.

  6. Steve Verdon says:

    Prediction: the suit will not be filed. She’s just settlement baiting. Even if one is filed, it will be dismissed faster than you can say “Skanks in NYC”.

    Uhhhmmm really? What about things like appealing the court order? Is that possible? Isn’t a verdict in a (civil) court case the same as a court order? Large companies with deep pockets appeal those all the time delaying whatever payment the verdict mandated.

    Frankly, I think she should sue Cohen for a share in any income she earns due to her new fame. All that “there is no such thing as bad press” stuff.

  7. tom p says:

    Frankly, I think she should sue Cohen for a share in any income she earns due to her new fame

    What makes you think Cohen has had any bump in income, Steve? Last time I checked (now) the internet is still largely free (what… she became the new google?)

  8. anjin-san says:

    Dunno, I am just not sure that someone who climbs up on the roof and shouts through a megaphone has an expectation of privacy…